Franco Battiato is often heralded as Italy’s answer to Brian Eno. A quizzical composer / lyricist, Battiato turned pop music upside down in the early ‘70s with three classic LPs—Fetus, Pollution and Sulle Corde Di Aries—that formed a confluence of avant-folk sensibilities and analog electronics. Pollution from 1972 is the captivating follow-up to Fetus. Like its predecessor, the album features Baroque textures, motorik rhythms, weird tape effects and Battiato’s perfectly oblique vocals. Upon hearing Pollution, Frank Zappa joyfully proclaimed it “genius.” While Battiato’s core group of collaborators remains largely the same as on his debut, this phenomenal band (joined by an eighteen-year-old Roberto Cacciapaglia on keys) appears even more in the foreground on Pollution. Out of the Ash Ra Tempel-like riffs and urgent guitar strumming emerge hypnotic grooves and cinematic flourishes, suggesting a futuristic meeting point between Stereolab and Ennio Morricone. Dedicated to the Centro Internazionale Studi Magnetici, Pollution touches on themes of environmental catastrophe. Futurist allusions seep in through eccentric lyrics (at times sung backwards) about hydraulics, magnetic fields, etc., yet listeners don’t need to speak the artist’s language to grasp his melancholy vision. With Pollution, Battiato solidifies not only his cult figure status, but also many of his forward-thinking ideas on rock ‘n’ roll.
Superior Viaduct is honored to present the first-time domestic release of Pollution on vinyl. Reproducing the original gatefold jacket, this reissue is part of an archival series that chronicles Franco Battiato’s masterful body of work from 1971 to 1978.